I have a quarter horse that is 15 years old that I bought about a month ago. Over the past month I have ridden him frequently and he transitions well between gaits, but for past few days I've ridden him he does fine at the walk and jog (although he want to smell the ground frequently) but when I ask him to lope he sticks his head down and tries to buck.( I do not get off him when he does this)
I spoke with the previous owner and they had the same problem with him at times when he was being stubborn. I was told by a trainer in the area to jerk his mouth and spur him when he does this, but that seem like I'd be adding to an already irritated horse. Is there a way I correct this "bad habit" whether it is method or device?
Thank you for your help.
No, there are no devices that will correct this problem. There are devices that will prevent horses from bucking. One of which is what is referred to as a bucking string. This is a string that runs from the saddle through the bridle and over the horse's gums in such a manner that whenever the horse lowers his head the string digs into the gums.
This is a method used some by clinicians, especially the media darling who makes a big deal out of humane treatment, to prevent the horse from bucking. While it may temporarily prevent bucking it masks the problem and makes the horse trade one discomfort for another while denying it the opportunity to relieve the discomfort. The string and other similar devices physically override the bucking action until the horse becomes numbed to the sensations or it goes to the next level and the string and other devices fail.
You have a horse that for all intents is a very tractable, compliant horse until it goes into a lope and then he bucks. The previous owners said he was just being stubborn and the advice is to jerk and spur which you wisely recognize is counter productive.
I would be very willing to bet there is a physical problem causing the bucking especially since you report the nose-down attitude. I'd bet the nose down is an attempt to relieve the discomfort, pretty much like what you would do to unkink your back.
There is also a kinetic energy thing involved here that provides a clue. Your body weighs more at the lope than it does at the walk or jog and the thrust of this weight is also applied in a different direction and/or depth.
This could be anything from misfitting tack to current or residual muscular or skeletal injury. I would have him looked at by an equine chiropractor or equine sports massage therapist, preferably both.
I'm really inclined to think it's your saddle fit. At some point an ill-fitting saddle has caused him a problem.
Traditionally vets have little experience in dealing with situations like this because few horse owners bring their animals to them unless they are bruised, swollen, oozing or bleeding. Unless your vet offers chiropractic, massage or other alternative treatments, I would look elsewhere for help.
To find a chiro near you The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association is a good place to start.
And let me end with an expression of gratitude from your horse at your refusal to jerk his mouth and spur his sides when he tells you there is a problem. It is refreshing to come across someone who doesn't immediately suspect "stubborness" when the horse objects.
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